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close this bookFact sheet No 233: Safety of Injections : A Glossary - October 1999 (WHO, 1999, 2 p.)
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A focal collection of pus resulting from necrosis of tissue, sometimes observed at the site of an injection.


Any substance which can generate the formation of a specific antibody (a protein created by the immune system to protect the body). For vaccines, the term antigen refers to a vaccine component that induces protection for one single disease (e.g., the measles antigen induces protection against measles).

Auto-disable (A-D)1 syringe

A specially modified disposable syringe with a fixed needle which is automatically disabled by plunger blocking after a single use.

Burden of disease

The health and socio-economic cost of a given medical condition on a society.

Bloodborne pathogens

Infectious agents transmitted through exposure to blood or blood products.


A chronic scarring of the liver that can result in hepatic failure, jaundice, and death.

Combination vaccine

A vaccine that combines several antigens to induce protection against several diseases.

Cost effectiveness

Ratio comparing the results of a healthcare program or procedure to the direct and indirect net costs of this program or procedure.

Disposable syringe

An all-plastic syringe designed for a single use, with a separate, steel needle. Because there is no mechanism to prevent re-use, this type of syringe may be used more than once.


The collection, storage, and subsequent destruction of all syringes and needles to avoid any accidents.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis caused by a virus and transmitted by exposure to blood or blood products or during sexual intercourse. It causes acute and chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis B can cause liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis caused by a virus and transmitted by exposure to blood or blood products. Hepatitis C is usually chronic and can cause cirrhosis and primary liver cancer.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus transmitted through exposure to blood or blood products or during sexual intercourse. HIV causes the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Infection control

The activities aiming at the prevention of the spread of pathogens between patients, from healthcare workers to patients, and from patients to healthcare workers in the healthcare setting.


The administration of a substance into the skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle tissue, or veins.

Intramuscular injection

An injection made into the body of a muscle.

Intravenous injection

An injection made into a vein.

Jet injector

Needleless device that allows the injection of a substance under pressure through the skin without a needle.


A microorganism capable of causing disease.

Safe injection

An injection that does not harm to the recipient, does not expose the health worker to any risk, and does not result in waste that puts the community at risk.

Safety(Sharps) Box

A puncture proof/liquid proof container designed to hold used sharps safely during disposal and destruction.

Safety syringe

Modified, disposable plastic syringe designed so that the healthcare worker can disable it in such a way that the needle is protected and cannot be re-used.


Severe generalised infection resulting from dissemination of pathogenic microorganisms and their toxins.


Equipment that is used in skin piercing procedures, such as needles and lancets.


Free from living micro-organisms, aseptic.

Sterilizable syringe

Either all plastic or all glass syringe with steel needle. This type of syringe is designed for re- use after proper cleaning and sterilisation in a steam sterilize for autoclave

Subcutaneous injection

An injection delivered under the skin.

Toxic shock syndrome

An acute, sometimes fatal, intoxication by an infectious agent during which organ activity is blocked causing severe shock and hypotension.


The administration of vaccine either orally or by injection to produce active immunity to a disease.

1/Often reffered to as Auto-Destruct

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© WHO/OMS, 2000